Continuity of functional-somatic symptoms from late childhood to young adulthood in a community sample

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2007 May;48(5):508-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2006.01721.x.


Background: The goal of this study was to assess the course of functional-somatic symptoms from late childhood to young adulthood and the associations of these symptoms with young adult psychopathology.

Methods: Data were collected in a large community sample at three different points in time (1994, 1997, and 2001). Functional-somatic symptoms were represented by nine self-reported items of the Youth Self Report (YSR) or the Young Adult Self Report (YASR). Only definite expressions of these symptoms were counted.

Results: Definite functional-somatic symptoms across time ranged between 1.0 and 2.6% for dizziness, 3.0 and 6.7% for overtiredness, 1.0 and 2.9% for aches and pains, 5.6 and 8.3% for headaches, 1.2 and 1.9% for nausea, 2.5 and 3.0% for stomach-ache, and .2 and .8% for vomiting. In general, symptoms were more common in females at various times. In high-scoring subjects there was a significantly higher chance of functional-somatic symptoms persisting across time.

Conclusions: Functional-somatic symptoms in childhood and adolescents can be easily identified in the community. In high-scoring subjects they tend to persist from childhood to adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Switzerland / epidemiology